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Back To School: An Economic Stimulator 

By Ernest Ndukong

It’s school time again. All stakeholders, either collectively or independently’ have dilemmas, reservations and excitements. Allocative efficiency prevails as it is an admirable time for some and very disdainful period for others.

The general trend of pick holes is “rentre scolaire! Things are not moving”. Amazingly, these pesters are even mostly shared by those who have little or nothing to do with back-to-school. That is to say they are neither parents nor guardians, and a direct or indirect attribution to school is not seen in this faction.

The sprint of activities to the build up to school resumption is not only thrilling but gives various stakeholders a once-in-a-year opportunity to optimally utilise resources for possible maximum gains. Businesses dealing in sewing, sale of school stationery, schools and banks, are presumable beneficiaries of this rush period, while parents are the principal complainants.

Tailors’ Harvest

From a sample of tailoring shops, there is an unarguably peak in activities which could only be well-matched to activities of the December festivities period and, to a lower extent, the period culminating to the International Day of the Woman.

What is still to be scientifically established is whether the stress and pressure from clientele can be commensurate to the returns of back-to-school? A tailor friend disclosed to The Post that the influx of customers within the last fortnight has been exceptional and this has impacted positively on his daily turnover and margin.

The average of five school uniforms per person a day, each costing about FCFA 2,500 to sew, fetches the tailor at least FCFA 12,500 daily. The resulting amount after many weeks of such hit should not be overemphasised. My tailor friend equally disclosed that the expenditure input to realise a school jacket or a pair of trousers is less than 30 percent of the sewing price.

Books & Stationeries Garner

Dealers in school stationery view this period as a “cocoa season”. They assert that, it is a practical once-in-a-year time for them to up their yearly earnings. They, however, regret the influx of booksellers during this period who, eventually, disappear after the rumble and only resurface the next year.

Emmanuel Alang, a book vendor in Buea assures a gross profit of FCFA 30,000 a day, if he sells sixty 80-leaves exercise books at FCFA 250 each. He further remarks that “the good thing about the business is the non-perishable nature of the items”. So, if one has a fine storage mechanism, they could be there till the next school period.

School Administrator’s Big Hit

School principals and proprietors have invested financially for the kick-off but are very optimistic for the returns. Queues could be seen in front finance offices of schools trying to pay fees or at administrative offices seeking admission.

A friend exclaimed in a drinking spot that most principals and proprietors of educational establishments acquire new cars and vinaigrettes after this period. His partner in retaliation quipped that a goat only eats where it is tethered. It should be noted that the transfer of teachers and principals is unprecedented in Cameroon.

Transport Sector Pick

Inter-urban and intra-urban transporters feel good during this period of school resumption. After touring a few transport agencies in Fako Division of the Southwest Region, overcrowded parks and rush cut across similarly among these bus stations. A transporter confirmed that the number of departures has almost tripled. This feat is replicated in their daily revenue.

Taxis within town are on the positive side as schools resume. A team of taxi drivers revealed that business has been at a slump during the long vacation, coupled with the rains which prevented people from moving. But they are sure to overturn the tables when their car seats will always be full in the mornings and evenings.

Bank, Credit Turnovers

Financial institutions are not left out in the preparation for a new academic year. From sightsee in many banks and micro finance houses; we observed that almost every poster or publicity is about school fee loans. Banks have special short term loans to enable parents prepare their offspring satisfactorily for school. These loans have an average interest rate of about 10 percent and have an average duration of ten months.

The duration is as sensitive as it doesn’t give room for clashes in the subsequent year. Another exciting issue about these special loans is the maturity period which is at most 48 hours from date of deposition of request. Other banks even credit the customers’ accounts at counter. Some banks give as much as FCFA 4 million depending on the client’s monthly earnings.

On this strength, one could conclude that the only stakeholder in an undesirable position is the parents and guardians. But an analytical mind would not share this view because education is investment; long term investment whose consequent fallouts is another topic of discussion in its entirety.

The pupils and students on their part sometimes feel nostalgic leaving home especially after resting and reaping all the things holidays present. While in school, they are expected to meet new friends, new teachers and a new environment.

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